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Griff'n' Bags

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Album Review

The cover implies that Johnny Griffin is the leader on this two-disc compilation of four different bands of various sizes that include members of the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band. He only seems to be present on just four of the 16 songs, all of which come from an old Vogue LP called Lady Heavy Bottom's Waltz from 1968 that was led by the tenor saxophonist. The three tracks with a trio consisting of Boland, Clarke, and bassist Jimmy Woode omit Griffin entirely, two of which are Woode's compositions and prominently featuring him. Milt Jackson joins flutist Sahib Shihab and the rhythm section for five selections, including a rare opportunity to hear Jackson sing ("I'm a Fool to Want You"), though it is his phenomenal vibes in his "Blues for K" and the standard "Like Someone in Love" that are the highlights of this 1969 session. Three other songs, all written by Boland, include the basic rhythm section, plus Shihab (heard on both baritone sax and flute), trombonist Ake Persson, and trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, though none of these works is particularly memorable. The remastered sound is excellent through all four studio sessions. Obviously, it would have made a lot more sense to package this as an anthology by Kenny Clarke and Francy Boland than by Johnny Griffin, but perhaps the label was either careless or thought this compilation would sell better under Griffin's name. Unfortunately, this misleading packaging is nothing new in the record business.


Born: 24 April 1928 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the all-time great tenor saxophonists, Johnny Griffin will go down in the annals of jazz as a performer easily able to negotiate the tricky harmonic changes and swift tempos of modern music. He'll also be remembered as a player who could masterfully interpret tender ballads, rivaling Ben Webster in that regard. Born John Arnold Griffin III in Chicago, Illinois, on April 24, 1928, he resided on the South Side of the Second City with his mother, who was a singer, and father, who played cornet....
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